Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative clinched the Lonesome Glory Champions Award as 2014’s leading earner on Saturday when he drew away powerfully to a 3 3/4-length victory in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hills Races.
Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, the reigning Eclipse Award champion bidding for his second straight Grand National victory, finished a gallant second after setting most of the pace in the 2 5/8-mile race over National Fences.
Divine Fortune is trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, who also accounted for the respective third- and fourth-place finishers, Hudson River Farms’ Parker’s Project and Sheppard’s Barnstorming.
Trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Robbie Walsh, Demonstrative claimed his third straight Grade 1 victory, after Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers Cup and Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap. The $150,000 first-place purse raised his 2014 earnings to $352,200, assuring him the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory earnings leader title and making him a prohibitive favorite for the Eclipse Award. He ran the Grand National distance in 5:19 on ground rated as good.
At the start, Darren Nagle put Divine Fortune on a solitary lead, the strategy that had paid off with his 2013 Grand National victory. Walsh had Demonstrative, normally a late runner, is third place. “On this course, you have to be close,” Valentine said.
Demonstrative moved into second position on the second loop of the New Jersey course when Inti began to tire, and seven-year-old Elusive Quality gelding attacked with a half-mile to run. Demonstrative seized the lead entering the stretch and jumped the final fence confidently to assure the victory.
Valentine was visibly moved by the victory in American Steeplechasing’s richest race. “I love this horse. I love my owner. I love my staff,” he said while awaiting for the trophy presentation by Far Hills co-race chairmen John von Stade and Guy J. Torsilieri, the NSA president.
Sheppard said he was pleased by the effort of Divine Fortune, an 11-year-old seeking his second Grade 1 win of the year. “The jockey gave him a good ride.”
All the Way Jose goes all the way
Ridden confidently by leading jockey Willie McCarthy, Rodman Moorhead III’s All the Way Jose drew clear to a three-length victory in the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and virtually clinched the year’s novice championship.
Trained by Sheppard, All the Way Jose moved toward the lead on Far Hills’ final turn and pulled away from Gil Johnston’s Syros, who finished second. Anne Pape’s Fog Island, the 2012 Foxbrook winner, finished third. One Giant Step, owned and trained by Sheppard, took home fourth money. All the Way Jose ran the Foxbrook’s 2 1/2 miles in 4:52.80.
Second in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes in his previous start a month earlier, All the Way Jose had drawn away to an overwhelming victory in a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 27. His 2014 earnings total $149,500 and leapfrogged him over prior novice leader Address Unknown, who was scratched from the Foxbrook.
One novice stakes remains on the 2014 schedule, the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway on Nov. 2.
Bittersweetheart placed first in Peapack
Irv Naylor’s Bittersweetheart moved into position to claim the Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare championship when she was placed first in the $75,000 Peapack Stakes. Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run, bidding for her third straight Peapack win and her second straight Life’s Illusion championship, finished first by a half-length over Bittersweetheart but was disqualified to second for interference at the last fence.
Michael Moran’s Ivy Mills, making only her second career start over fences, finished third, seven lengths farther back, and Robert Kinsey’s Casablanca Lily claimed fourth money. Kisser N Run ran the Peapack’s 2 1/8 miles in 4:04.60 on turf raced as good.
Trained by Leslie Young, Bittersweetheart previously won the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Margaret Currey Henley Stakes in May and raised her 2014 earnings to $84,000, while Georgia Cup winner Kisser N Run has earnings exceeding $52,000. One major filly-and-mare stakes, the Crown Royal at the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens, remains on the schedule.
Jennifer Pitts’ Bau Bai Gold set the pace for almost two miles before tiring on the turn into the stretch. Kisser N Run took the lead under Robbie Walsh while well off the inside rail, and jockey Paddy Young positioned a surging Bittersweetheart outside her. Kisser N Run jumped to the outside at the last fence, forcing Young to take back on Bittersweetheart.
After the fence, both mare resumed their attacks, with Kisser N Run reaching the finish line first.
Trainer Young said her husband rarely claims foul but felt he had no choice this time. “I don’t think Paddy’s claimed foul in six years, ” she said.
Bittersweetheart, purchased by Young for owner Naylor last year, came into the Peapack from a third-place finish in Saratoga Race Course’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes, her first start since her Henley victory.
Hot Rize stays hot in New Jersey Hunt Cup
Holston Hall’s Hot Rize, making a serious case for the year’s timber championship, surged through Far Hills’ stretch and held off late-running Brother Sy to win the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup by a half-length.
Straight to It finished third, another three-quarters of a length farther back in the 3 1/4-mile race over timber fences. Super Saturday set the pace to the final turn and finished fourth. Trained by Holston Hall’s Russell Haynes, Hot Rize ran the distance in 7:47.20 off slow early fractions.
Hot Rize, winner of the Virginia Gold Cup in his previous start, carried Willie McCarthy to his second win of the day. The victory put McCarthy in control of the jockey standings with 19 victories, six more than Ross Geraghty with four weekends of racing remaining in the 2014 season.